Seamless Returns Experience

Team:

Customer Technology

Published Date:

03.22.19

Mobile Express Returns

Technologies

  • Java
  • Java Script Native-Mobile

Overview

Over the decades, Walmart has become synonymous with guaranteed everyday low prices, but for many busy Walmart shoppers, time is now considered a form of currency.

Walmart’s seamless, omni-channel experience makes shopping faster, more pleasurable and convenient. However, returning items and waiting for a refund isn’t typically enjoyable – for anyone. That’s why Walmart launched Mobile Express Returns for online purchases in November 2017 – just in time for the holidays, when customers are purchasing more than any other time of the year – and then for in-store purchases in early 2018.

Walmart continuously develops new tools and technologies that help customers – particularly busy families – not only save money, but also save time. Being able to conveniently return items purchased in stores, online or via mobile device is living up to that promise. By combining our physical and digital assets, we’re changing the returns game in ways that only Walmart can.

With Mobile Express Returns, we’re able to offer a returns experience unlike any other in retail. We’re bringing together all of the conveniences of Walmart – great stores, convenient pickup, easy checkout and a top-notch mobile app – to deliver a seamless shopping and returns experience for customers.

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Challenges

In order to maintain a high level of customer satisfaction surrounding the Walmart omni-channel shopping experience, the company turned its focus on improving product returns for its customers. Specifically, Walmart sought to leverage its existing Walmart app – which is used by more than 22.6 million customers each month -- to provide a faster, seamless, more convenient way to return products purchased from Walmart.com and Walmart stores. To achieve this, the company was tasked to:

  • Mirror Walmart’s omni-channel shopping experience: Enable customers to buy items online and use the mobile app to quickly and easily facilitate in-store returns
  • Extend the usefulness of the Walmart app: Continue to add new functionalities to the customer’s mobile device, making it a must-have tool for Walmart customers
  • Improve convenience: Ease of returns can be a deciding factor for online and mobile purchases
  • Reduce wait times: Create a more efficient returns process to improve customer satisfaction
  • Expand the offering: Work with supplier partners to extend this convenience to products sold in the Walmart Marketplace.

Solutions

Leveraging technologies and insights gained from the development of Walmart Pay and two other recent “Express” features, Walmart teams in Bentonville, Sunnyvale, Reston, and Bangalore collaborated to develop Mobile Express Returns, which launched in December 2017 and has significantly improved the product return experience for both customers and associates.

Customer experience:
  • The helpful and time-saving new feature on the Walmart app makes the customer’s mobile device an even more indispensable tool when shopping at Walmart
  • It leverages existing technologies with which Walmart mobile app users are already familiar
  • Product returns are now fast, easy and intuitive: Open the app, select the items to be returned, scan a QR code and then hand the items to the associate
  • No waiting for charges to be reversed or checks to be mailed; refund instantly appears on the customer’s Walmart app account
  • Ease and convenience of returns leads to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty

Store Experience:
  • The user-friendly process makes associates’ jobs easier and customer interaction more enjoyable
  • Highly visible, dedicated Mobile Express Returns lanes at the Customer Service desk eliminates wait times and encourages use of the Walmart app
  • Refunds are instantly applied to the customer’s Walmart app, which they can immediately use while they’re in the store, or for future online and mobile purchases.
  • The experience reinforces the omni-channel nature of Walmart: Buy online, use mobile device to facilitate return at stores

Technology
  • Walmart saw the chance to leverage the Walmart Pay technology for different use cases. Deconstructing and rebuilding the payment experience for Walmart Pay allowed us to examine each aspect of the shopping experience – including returns.
  • We extracted the business logic from our POS systems and developed a new microservice based architecture to ensure future flexibility and speed of returns.
  • A new dynamic rules engine was developed to provide a means in which mobile devices could easily access POS return business logic, thus enabling future business adjustments.
  • Through the use of dynamic, machine learning algorithms, we are able to continuously refine this feature as we learn more about shopping patterns in order to better deliver a personalized experience.
  • Conversely, we implemented QR Codes into the returns process because of their universal nature (being device agnostic), ease of use, and familiarity among our Walmart app customers.

Results

  • Mobile Express Returns has been used more than 760,000 times for in-store purchases since launch, and nearly 740,000 times for online purchases (as of February 2019).
  • For in-store purchases, Mobile Express Returns reduced transaction times by 74%, from an average of four minutes down to 63 seconds -- with some transactions as low as 30 seconds. For online purchases, the feature reduced transaction times by 70%, from an average of five minutes down to 92 seconds.
  • Feedback from Walmart associates praise the new feature as helping them process returns much faster.

With the success of Mobile Express Returns, we are working to expand the program to accept Walmart.com Marketplace returns as well.

Any reference in this case study to any specific commercial product, process, or service, or the use of any trade, firm or corporation name is for information and convenience purposes only, and does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

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